At the funeral for a former teacher, five grade-school classmates reunite for a night of reminiscing, soul searching, and drunken topless dancing in Barbara Albert’s Falling, a trip down memory lane marred by estrangement, conflict, and wistfulness. Fourteen years after they went their separate ways, the thirtysomething Austrian women come back together to find that current circumstances don’t comfortably mesh with long-held memories, a fact most evident in the contentiousness between idealistic activist teacher Brigitte (Birgit Minichmayr) and jaded actress Carmen (Kathrin Resetarits). The personal is political throughout Albert’s film, which comes equipped with both images of children’s drawings of war and characters yelling out “Long Live Freedom!,” and which periodically interrupts its action with static snapshots accompanied by a cappella renditions of songs such as “We Shall Overcome.” Such shadings are as thinly developed as the rest of the narrative, which often makes little sense—as when the women randomly stumble upon a countryside wedding, and the groom turns out to be one of their ex-lovers—and never elicits any emotional involvement in their sketchy plights. With some early flashbacks to childhood, the filmmaker hints at intriguing incongruities between the past and present, as well as the way in which the hopeful dreams of youth are often unsustainable amid the realities of adulthood. Mostly, though, her tale meanders forward with little apparent direction and virtually no interesting drama, with the cast’s engagingly genuine performances largely negated by the fact that their characters’ odyssey never leads to more than a few extremely modest surprises (two of the women had relationships with the deceased teacher; Gabriela Hegedus’s Nicole is actually an inveterate criminal who’s breaking the terms of a court order by traveling with her daughter) and one seriously uncomfortable sequence in which employment officer Alex (Ursula Strauss) lets loose at a nightclub by getting plastered, removing her shirt, and grinding chest-to-chest with a new bride.
- Kino International
- 88 min
- Barbara Albert
- Barbara Albert
- Nina Proll, Birgit Minichmayr, Kathrin Resetarits, Ursula Strauss, Gabriela Hegedus
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